Thor Hushovd spent seven days in the lead of the 2011 Tour de France but vowed to win a stage of the race while wearing the world champion’s rainbow jersey and today he confirmed his versatility and sheer power. He paced himself to perfection, fighting hard to get into an escape group that took a long time to establish, then managing the mountains of the Pyrenees and then timing his finishing surge like the true professional he is. It is Hushovd’s ninth victory in the Tour de France that has included success in a time trial (the prologue in 2006), sprint wins, escapes victories, and triumphs on the pave of stage three last year.
A the start of the 152.5km 13th stage of the 2011 Tour de France, there were 174 riders at the sign in. The itinerary took riders over three climbs: the cat-3 cote de Cuqueron (43.5km), the cat-4 cote de Belair (65km) and the 16.4km ascent of the col d’Aubisque (a hors categorie climb that peaked at 110km). It was a fast start with lots of attacks early, but nothing was allowed to gain any advantage until after the first hour of racing.
As the race neared the end, the riders had to ride over the col du Soulor before descending to the finish in Lourdes. Roy’s advantage over Hushovd and Moncoutie dwindled in the dying kilometers of the stage: 35 seconds with 15km to go, 16 seconds with 10km to go, 12seconds with 5km to go. It was when we saw the surge from Hushovd with 3km to go, it was clear that he was just biding his time. He attacked Moncoutie with such ferocity that it took only 800m to catch Roy. With 2.2km to go, the world champion was in the lead. Roy faded in the finale and was overtaken by Moncoutie who finished 10 seconds behind the first (road race) world champion to win a stage of the Tour since Oscar Freire claimed a sprint win early in the 2002 edition. Voeckler retained the yellow jersey.